Football

Euro 2020 | Sterling strikes as England tops group

England's Raheem Sterling, left, and Czech Republic's Vladimir Coufal battle for the ball during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group D match between the Czech Republic and England at Wembley stadium, London on June 22, 2021.   | Photo Credit: AP

England clinched first place in Euro 2020 Group D with a 1-0 win against the Czech Republic, while Luka Modric’s rocket propelled Croatia into the last 16 as its 3-1 victory over Scotland eliminated its COVID-hit opponents on Tuesday.

Already assured of playing in the last 16, England made certain that the knockout tie will be played in front of its own fans at Wembley thanks to Raheem Sterling’s first-half winner against the Czechs.

England will face the second-placed team in Group F on June 29, with France, Germany, Portugal or Hungary all potential opponents.

In third place

At Wembley, the Czechs also knew they were sure to advance before kick-off, but their first defeat of the tournament left them in third place.

Their next opponent will be decided when the final two groups conclude on Wednesday.

Croatia leapfrogged the Czechs into second place with a commanding second-half display in Glasgow featuring one of the goals of the tournament from Real Madrid midfielder Modric.

The 2018 World Cup runner-up will play the second placed team from Group E —which features Spain, Slovakia, Sweden or Poland — in Copenhagen on Monday.

Heartbreak for Scotland

Scotland’s first major tournament since the 1998 World Cup ended in heartache as it failed to meet the target of reaching the knockout stages of an international competition for the first time.

Having started Group D by narrowly beating Croatia 1-0 before being booed off after a drab 0-0 draw against Scotland, England produced a slightly more cohesive display against the Czechs.

“We changed what we were doing overnight because of the change in personnel, so it is a huge credit to the players,” Southgate said.

Southgate selected Jack Grealish to replace Mount and the Aston Villa midfielder provided a spark as his perfectly-flighted cross to the far post was headed in by Sterling in the 12th minute.

But England couldn’t find a killer second as Harry Kane’s Euro goal drought extended to three games. Kane was brilliantly denied by Tomas Vaclik’s first-half save as he finally had his first shot on target in the tournament.

At Hampden Park, Callum McGregor cancelled out Nikola Vlasic’s early opener to give Scotland hope heading into half-time.

But Modric showed the class that made him the man to break Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s grip on the Ballon d’Or in 2018, a stunning strike with the outside of his foot just after the hour mark restoring Croatia’s lead.

Ivan Perisic’s header rubbed salt into Scottish wounds 13 minutes from full time.

Scotland finished with only one point and it will rue the fact that Chelsea midfielder Billy Gilmour was ruled out of the Croatia game after testing positive for the coronavirus.

The results:

Group D: Croatia 3 (Vlasic 17, Modric 62, Perisic 77) bt Scotland 1 (McGregor 42); Czech Republic 0 lost to England 1 (Sterling 12).


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Printable version | Jul 28, 2021 4:51:56 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/football/england-get-the-job-done-with-1-0-win-over-czechs/article34920854.ece

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